The Siren Song of the Pirate Queen | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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The Siren Song of the Pirate Queen


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Cheri and Don Hood got their first look at Grannia, a musical-theater version of the life of 16th-century pirate queen Grace O'Malley, when their daughter played the lead in a college production in the mid-1990s. They loved the story of the fierce Irishwoman who raided Queen Elizabeth's ships and regularly beat the English in battle, got a copy of the script from coauthor Thomas Powers, and passed it around for a time at the College of DuPage's McAninch Arts Center, where Don is production manager. Years flew by, however, and the script was lost and pretty much forgotten. Then, Cheri fell seriously ill with a blood disease. She fought it for a year and a half, and in the depth of her illness dreamed that she was producing Grannia. When the lost copy of the script surfaced two days later, the Hoods decided it was meant to be: when Cheri recovered, they would stage it themselves. Last week Cheri was putting the finishing touches on costumes for the production, which opens September 3 at the arts center. Don directs Shannon Comiskey as Grannia and Denise Blank as Elizabeth, plus a cast of 19 other local actors; an eight-piece orchestra will play the Larry "Flash" Allen score on period instruments. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2 through September 19 at the McAninch Arts Center, Fawell and Park in Glen Ellyn. Tickets range from $19 to $21; call 630-942-4000.

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